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Thoughts From Someone Who Has Seen More Than The Usual

Builder1 started this conversation

By Jeffrey D. Barnett (a Marine officer and Iraq War Veteran):

"Before my deployment [to Iraq] I was disposed to always be active. Whether it was with work, hobbies, reading, social activities, or other things, I did not like to be idle. Now I am sometimes content to sit idle with only my thoughts. Watching the ocean, sitting in my front yard with my dog, driving at night: moments when I can contentedly reflect on life alone. Adding a few friends and a pleasant discussion to this activity is now probably my favorite pastime. I now place a much greater value on experiences, while before I almost exclusively valued achievement. And I don’t necessarily mean grand, individual achievements, but also group achievements through things like playing poker or gaming with friends.

Now, I certainly enjoyed experiences before Iraq. Going to the movies to see the latest Will Ferrell film was just as gratifying then as it is now. However, my perspective on activity has changed, and now I am content to relax and just let things happen rather than relentlessly steer every activity towards an ultimate goal. I still steer towards goals, and be sure that I am still relentless, but I now have a far more balanced desire for simple experiences. This has given me a much deeper appreciation for my experiences and those who share them with me, because I know they are just as mortal as I am.

The second change runs slightly counter to the first, causing disconnect with others: After experiencing real chaotic violence and seeing how ugly humanity can be it’s difficult to get excited about some things the rest of the world views as important. For example, about a year after I returned from Iraq a new video game was released and heavily criticized in the media for brief scenes of semi-nudity, I remember feeling frustrated that some of my friends were deployed at that time and probably facing worse circumstances than I had, yet America was in a tizzy over whether its children should be exposed to alien buttocks. At the end of the day, after you’ve seen school children walk in a single-file line past the dead body of a man executed at gunpoint, it’s difficult to care about the social degradation caused by bare buttocks in a video game."

Read the full post in NYT...

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Hi Emil,

I enjoyed the article by ex-marine Jeffrey Barnett.

Having lived in the Arab Kingdom for a total of two years, it changed my perspectives on being an American on many levels.  Men who were recruited from jobs here to work in SA, HAD to take an R&R every three months out of the country. Culture shock was a given.

My ex-husband was a CEO.  We were told more or less we were on our own while living there.  Our Embassy could only do so much.  The experiences I had while residing there, changed me for ever.  Some good....some sad.

My heart and prayers go out to all of our military who has experienced the reality of different cultures under hostile conditions.  Especially the Arab nations.  

Thank You for bringing this article to our site.  It makes for a good balance of all the things we feel are so detrimental to our well being.  It reminded me to prioritize 'needs' from 'wants'.  



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